17 September, 2012

State Fair Food at The Big E: Pulled Pork Stuffed Corn Cake

Second in a series about State Fair Food as served at the 2012 Big E (New England's Great State Fair)

Lunchtime at a state fair is nothing if not a world of possibilities, and not all of those possibilities are deep-fried. Sometimes, you can find something interesting where you least expect it. 

As an example, we were passing through a section of the Big E fairgrounds on our way elsewhere, when Lynnafred stopped dead in her tracks, eyes wide. She was gazing at a cinnamon bun concession as she said, "Dad. Pulled pork stuffed corn cake. It looks...terrifying."  Terrifying things are often rewarding, though, so we approached for a closer look.

Each Pulled Pork Stuffed Corn Cake starts with a big scoop of sweet corn cake divoted down in the center to form a well. This is topped with a scoop of cole slaw, then piled high with slow-cooked pulled pork and squirted over with a big dose of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce.

When I ordered, I asked that the slaw be put on the side, because I'm deeply suspicious of cole slaw that is not of my own creation lest it ruin the overall enjoyability of the dish. My suspicions were, however, unwarranted.

Each of the components of the pulled pork stuffed corn cake are very good:
  • The corn cake is actually a sweet corn cake, similar to the kind you can make from a mix available at the supermarket under Hormel's Chi-Chi's label. It's very moist and rich and studded with kernels of corn, and makes a good base for a dish like this.
  • The cole slaw is mostly slivered cabbage with a small amount of carrot, very little sugar, and a healthy shot of horseradish, making for a more savory than sweet slaw.
  • The pulled pork is very tender and nicely done, though it is a little on the light side when it comes to smoke flavoring. I have a feeling that it's done in an oven rather than in a barbecue pit, but I'm not going to complain because it's moist and porky and I'm eating it at a state fair, not at Little Bubba's  BBQ Pit somewhere.
  • The whole pile is topped with Sweet  Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, which isn't a super premium homemade sauce, but it isn't totally heinous.
So, what do you get when you take four kinda ordinary ingredients and combine them on a paper tray?  You get magic is what.

The overall effect is just awesome.  Every component of the dish works with the other parts in a way that makes them better than they are alone. Even the cole slaw was a great addition, because the sharp horseradish modulates the sweetness of the BBQ sauce and corn cake.

If you're looking for a break from the relentless parade of fried fair food, you could do a lot worse than this.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Corn Cake.  $10, Sold by Scirrotto's Cinnamon City at the 2012 Big E, at the southwest corner of the Young Building.

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